The race to produce the best Blu-ray player has seemingly turned into the race to produce the best streaming player that also happens to do Blu-ray playback. Most companies have given up on the high-end of Blu-ray playback to companies like Oppo while they aim for a mainstream approach. Samsung is one company that has produced players that have typically been very good, but always with a flaw or two that keep them from being the best.
The BD-F5900 model is what I believe would be their most popular model this year. With Wi-Fi, 3D playback, and a full array of streaming features, it competes with other models like the Sony BDP-S5100. So what sets the Samsung BD-F5900 apart from those? First and foremost, it is their selection of online content. They have one of the widest arrays of apps available, but also have one of the best approaches to organizing them. Letting you group items into favorites and your most popular apps, it makes it easy to use the content you are really after. It bridges the gap between LG, which has a very nice interface but one you can’t easily customize, and Sony, with its huge selection of content but poor organization. It also is fast with online content, providing one of the better experiences on a Blu-ray player.
What falls short on the Samsung is the physical design of the player and the DVD playback. The top-mounted controls are touch-sensitive and can’t be disabled. Moving a hand too close to grab a Blu-ray case will cause the tray to open and you to have to start loading your movie again. Placing anything on top of the case to prevent this will cause the Wi-Fi signal to drop and kill your streaming playback. DVD content suffers from an inability to recognize a 3:2 cadence, which all standard films on DVD are encoded in. Combined these help to take a very nice online and playback experience and mar it.
More on these issues, and the full suite of bench tests, are available now in my review over at Secrets of Home Theater. Are these flaws a deal-breaker, or does the streaming content and performance wind up salvaging the Samsung BD-F5900? Read the full review to find out.